Friday, February 21, 2014

New Blog.

I love blogging. 
So when I was told that I could make a blog as a missionary I was thrilled. 
So I made this little guy. 
For some reason I could not figure out why I was having such a hard time. 
I didn't know what to post about. 
Most of the time I didn't feel like I had enough time to think of something great to write.
I asked for advice.
I was told to be creative.
To be myself.
I thought and thought and thought.
Finally I decided to create a new blog.
One that is completely unique to me.
So I did.
I made a blog where I will focus on a different word every week.
Words make sense to me.
When I know the meaning of a word it can help me to better understand what I am reading.
So my new blog is called Understanding God....One Word at a Time. 
You can find it here.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Choices. Part II.

Agency. Again.

The gift God has given us to choose.

There is this scripture in the Book of Mormon. It is found in 2 Nephi 2:27. It says:
27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

A similar lesson is taught in the Bible in Deuteronomy 11:26-28  (KJV) which says:
26 Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; 
27 A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day;
28 And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.

As I was thinking about this the other morning, I was thinking about that choice. The choice between liberty and eternal life or captivity and death. The choice between a blessing and a curse.

Isn't that a pretty easy choice?

If someone came up to you and gave you two keys. One key to liberty and eternal life and the other one to captivity and death, which would you choose?

I don't know about you but I would most definitely choose liberty and eternal life. I'm convinced that most of the world would also do the same.

Simple, right?

Unfortunately, it isn't that simple. The decisions we have to make aren't that obvious.

These might be some of the decisions we face every day:
Spending time on the internet or visiting a friend who is sick.
Going to church on Sunday or sleeping.
Doing your homework right now or waiting until later.
Going to a party or spending time with your family. 
Lighting up a cigarette or going on a bike ride.

It hit me that every single decision we make takes us one way or the other. Towards liberty and eternal life, or towards captivity and death.  When we are choosing between serving an elderly neighbor and taking a nap we don't think about how one decision is going to lead us to liberty and eternal life and the other one won't.

Even if one decision doesn't directly lead us to captivity and death, it defines who we are and ultimately who we will become. The decisions we make shape our destiny. The little choices are what matter most.

I know that what we choose determines who we are. I know that as you strive to make choices that lead you to liberty and eternal life that "the Lord will make much more out of your life than you can by yourself. He will increase your opportunities, expand your vision, and strengthen you. He will give you the help you need to meet your trials and challenges, You will gain a stronger testimony and find true joy as you come to know your Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ, and feel Their love for you." (For the Strength of Youth)  I know that God loves each one of His children. He has given us this wonderful gift of agency and if we use it to make righteous, good choices, we will be able to one day be welcomed into His arms and will be able to live with Him for eternity.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Putting God first.

I know that if you put God first and do all you can do keep his commandments, He will make sure that everything works together for your good. And even though you will still have hard days and dark moments, God will be there to help you and strengthen you. And you will receive more blessings than you can imagine.

We did travel and wade through much affliction in the wilderness....and so great were the blessings of the Lord upon us....And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the things which he has commanded them.
1 Nephi 17:1-3 (Book of Mormon)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Choices. Part I.

Growing up in the church, I was told that God will always answer my prayers. I was also told that sometimes you have to take a few steps in one direction before our Heavenly Father will let you know whether or not that is the right way for you to go.

So there was a decision I had to make a little more than a year ago. I really didn't know what I should do. I prayed and prayed and I was not getting an answer. The thought just kept coming to me that I needed to take a couple steps forward. I needed to make the decision and then God would let me know if it was right.

I didn't like this. I said to myself, "If God would just tell me what to do, I will do it."

Obedience. I can do that. I try to do that.

Choices on the other hand, I do not enjoy.

While I was having this internal battle with myself I went to a church meeting where I learned a very valuable lesson. The speaker somehow knew exactly what I needed to hear. She was talking about agency. She said that if we are wishing that God would just tell us what to do rather than choosing it for ourselves, then we are choosing Satan's plan.

Let me repeat that.

When we wish that God would just tell us what to do rather than choosing it for ourselves, we are choosing Satan's plan.

Wow. That hit me like a ton of bricks. I had been wishing for Satan's plan! The reason why Lucifer became the devil was because he wanted to take away our agency and force us to make the right choices. I wanted God to take away my agency and just tell me what to do in the situation. I was wanting Satan's plan instead of God's plan.

Agency. The ability to choose. One of God's greatest gifts to us, His Children.

Doctrine & Covenants 58:26-28
26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as me do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.

With this new perspective, I am learning to love making choices. I know that God has given us this wonderful gift. I know that agency makes us grow. And it makes us appreciate our decisions more. I know that a lot of times in our lives, he trusts us to make the right choice. I know that I am a lot more likely to love and enjoy something if it was my own choice rather than someone forcing me to do it. I also know that as we use our agency to make good, righteous, wonderful choices, God will reward us more than we can ever imagine. We will start to become like Jesus Christ. I love my Heavenly Father. I love my Savior Jesus Christ.

Sometimes he lets us go down wrong roads for a little while so we know for sure that it is the wrong way.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The parable of the pencil.

The pencil maker told the pencil 5 things that make it important before placing it in the pencil box.
1. What is important is inside of you.
2. Everything you do will always leave a mark.
3. You can always correct the mistakes you make.
4. In life, you will undergo many sharpenings, which will only make you better.
5. To be the best pencil, you must allow yourself to be HELD and GUIDED by the HAND that holds you.

Remember that you are the pencil. God is the pencil maker. Let him hold you and guide you. And use that eraser. Jesus Christ suffered for all of our sins, temptations, and trials so that we can fix the mistakes that we make.

Mother Teresa said, “I’m a little pencil in the hands of God. He does the thinking. He does the writing. He does everything—and it’s really hard—sometimes it’s a broken pencil. He has to sharpen it a little more. But be a little instrument in His hands so that He can use you anytime, anywhere.”

I know everything you do matters. I know that if there is mark you made that you don't like, you can erase it. I know that when we get dull or broken, we will be sharpened so we can live to our full potential. I know that the most important thing you can do is to let yourself be led and guided by Heavenly Father. Trust and follow his plan. Live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Get to know the pencil maker. He has wonderful things in store for you.

Mosiah 23:10 (Book of Mormon)
After much tribulation, the Lord did hear my cries, and did answer my prayers, and has made me an instrument in his hands

How have you seen God's hand guiding your life?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

It's alright to be weak.

When you are seriously sick, you can't just ignore it. You have to admit that you are weak, and you have to go to the doctor. If you don't, you won't be able to get the help you need. You will get weaker and weaker and you might never heal. But if you do get help, you can get on a path to recovery. The doctor can prescribe or recommend medication, therapy or other procedures that are necessary for you to become strong again.

So how about when we are spiritually weak? When you feel like your relationship with God isn't strong enough? When you feel guilt and shame because of sins that you have committed? When you want to  strengthen your relationship with your spouse? When you have a desire to be better at reading the scriptures?

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. -Ether 12:27 (Book of Mormon)

When you are spiritually sick you have to do the same thing as when you are physically sick. You have to be humble and admit that you are weak. Then you have to go to Jesus Christ who has made it possible through his atonement for us all to repent and make changes in our lives. He will recommend or prescribe things that will help you to become stronger. His grace is sufficient to help you become strong! What you have to do is be humble, put your trust in him, and do what he says. 

I am weak. I make mistakes every single day. And that is alright. It is okay to be weak. There are things that we all need to work on. The most important thing is that we turn to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ who will make us become strong.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A virtue called patience.

Patience. Something we could all work on. I've been thinking lately about this virtue.

At the end of Hebrews 12:1 it says "and let us run with patience the race that is set before us."

Run with patience.

That scripture made me think of a race. When you are running a race, especially a long one, you can't start out sprinting. You must pace yourself. You have to understand that if you run too fast you will wear yourself out. You have to be patient with yourself.

This is exactly like life. We are in a race. There are so many times in my life when I take a personal inventory and I come to the conclusion that I have so much to work on. So many things that I could do better. I think about how I could be running faster. It is overwhelming.

This scripture reminded me to SLOW DOWN. I don't have to sprint. The one thing that matters is that I just keep running, that I just keep working on myself. 

When I am running I often say something along the lines of "I will just get to that next tree." When I get to that tree I say "I can make it to that mailbox." And so it goes until I reach my goal. In life, we can do the same thing. We can work on one thing at a time. "I will work on reading just a verse in the Book of Mormon every day." Then when that goal is reached say, "Now I can try to go to church every week." And so it goes.

Elder Uchtdorf related this story in general conference a few years ago. 

Be patient. The marshmallows will come. Don't run too fast. Smile and enjoy the journey.

Our current prophet said, "Life is full of difficulties, some minor and others of a more serious nature. There seems to be an unending supply of challenges for one and all. Our problem is that we often expect instantaneous solutions to such challenges, forgetting the heavenly virtue of patience is required." -President Thomas S. Monson

I know that as we work on being patient that Jesus Christ is with us every step of the way! Because of His sacrifice we are able to make changes in our lives to become more like Him. He is our perfect example. Don't stop trusting in Him, in His love, and in your Heavenly Father.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

My family is forever.

The best Christmas gift that I received this December 25 was the chance to talk to my family on Skype. That is a privilege that missionaries get only twice a year and it is truly precious time.

Needless to say my family is on my mind.

Someone once said, "Missionaries leave their families for 18 months (or 2 years) so that other families can be together forever." 

It's true.

Because the priesthood, or God's power, has been restored. Families can be sealed together for eternity. Not just "till death do us part", but for ETERNITY.

Matthew 16:19 says, "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven."

This can only happen by someone holding the priesthood sealing power of God inside the House of the Lord, a holy temple.

This is one of those holy temples. 

This also happens to be the temple that my parents were sealed for eternity over 22 years ago.

In the temple, a couple makes promises with each other and with God. If both husband and wife stay true to these promises, they have the promise from Almighty God that their marriage will not only last here on earth but will continue on throughout the eternities. 

Because my parents chose to and were worthy to be sealed in the temple I have the privilege to spend eternity with them.

This is my family.

I am so grateful that I was blessed to be born into an eternal family. That our relationships will last forever. Nothing brings me more joy.

As long as all of us are faithful and live worthy, we will see each other again. 

My daddy left this life more than two years ago. As hard as that was, I am comforted in the fact that he is in the spirit world and is free from all pain and suffering. I know that I will see Him again. 

It's that eternal perspective that keeps me going. It helps me on good days and also on hard days. 

I know that not only my family can be together forever but your family can also have the opportunity to be sealed together for eternity.

You can make that happen. Through our Savior Jesus Christ's atonement we have the opportunity to have faith and repent so we can one day be worthy of these blessings. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I can hear the bells.

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along th'unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."
Till, ringing, singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!
LDS Hymn # 214

Saturday, December 14, 2013

What matters most to me.

"The more commercialized and busy the Christmas season becomes, the easier it is for the sublime message of the Savior’s life to get lost along the way. If we notice that planning for parties and scrambling for presents begin to detract from the peaceable message of Jesus Christ and distance us from the gospel He preached, let us take a step back, slow down a little, and reconsider what matters most."
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
What really does matter most?
What matters most to me is my family.
That they know that I love them and miss them.
And that we can be together not only
"until death do us part"
but for eternity.
What matters most to me is the people I love.
My friends, neighbors, and loved ones
That they are safe, protected, and happy.
That they know that they are loved.
What matters most to me is being a member of
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Which is Jesus Christ's restored gospel on the earth today.
Where I can learn about how I can become
more like my Savior each day.
What matters most to me is being a missionary.
To teach complete strangers about Jesus Christ.
And about how they can draw closer to him.
What matters most to me is that a boy named
Joseph Smith
had enough faith in God to ask him which church to join.
That God's love is so real and he wanted to restore
His gospel on the earth once more.
That he called Joseph Smith to be the prophet to restore the gospel.
What matters most to me is God's Plan of Salvation.
That perfect plan that He gave us
so we can know
Where we came from,
What is our purpose on earth, and
Where will we go after we die.
What matters most to me is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
That has taught me
That through
Receiving the Holy Ghost
and Enduring to the end
I can return to live with God again.
What matters most to me is my Savior
Jesus Christ.
More than 2000 years ago he was
born of a humble birth.
He lived a sinless life
He set a perfect example.
Who suffered, bled, died, and rose the third day
to know exactly what I am going through
to pay the price for my sins
to make it possible to return to live with God again.
He is my older brother,
my best friend,
my healer,
my Savior.
I love Him and trust Him.
I will follow Him.
This is what matters most to me this Christmas Season.
Jesus saith unto him,
I am the way, the truth, and the life:
no man cometh unto the Father but by me.